Apple's second big event in just about as many months was broadcast yesterday. Compared to many Apple events, it was relatively low key. Apple's getting into the groove of doing virtual events. The first few were relatively high on showmanship. This one seemed a bit more pedestrian, but it was also more focused.
The star of the show was the announcement of two scaled up M1 processors, the M1 Pro and M1 Max. Both have the same number of compute cores (eight performance cores, and two low-power cores). The Pro supports 32GB RAM, the Max supports 64GB. The Pro has a 16 core GPU, and the Max has a 32 core GPU. The Pro's memory bandwidth is 200GB/sec, the Max has a whopping 400GB/sec.
Make no mistake about it. While the original M1 is a shockingly capable processor (albeit with limited RAM and Thunderbolt capacity), the M1 Pro and M1 Max are beasts. When I start thinking about what an M2 might be capable of, it makes my head spin.
What a difference this is from back in 2018, where we legitimately asked if Apple had abandoned its pro and extreme pro users. The M1 Pro and Max processors, paired with the new MacBook Pros just announced, have extreme pro written all over them.
Can we just take a minute to breathe a sigh of relief? The new MacBook Pros finally -- finally -- have some ports. There are three Thunderbolt 3 ports (four would have been even better, but okay), an SD card slot, a full-sized HDMI port, and, yes, MagSafe (in the form of MagSafe 3) is back.
As it turns out, if you want to wrap those ports in a lot of power (and spend a painful amount of money), you can.
When Apple showed the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros based on the M1 Pro and M1 Max processors, they put up a slide with $1,999 and $2,499 respectively. What they didn't do is go into just how much a fully-equipped machine would be.
Now, to be fair, even I don't need a fully equipped machine. I don't need 8TB of internal storage, for example. The price jump from 2TB to 8TB is $1,600. It's a lot.
But let's configure up a maxed-out 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro. The base $2,499 machine starts with an M1 Pro processor (with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores), 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage.
Moving to the base M1 Max unit (with 10 CPU cores and 32 GPU cores) takes you to $3,499, but you start with 32GB RAM and 1TB storage.
Bumping it up to 64GB RAM will cost another $400. Personally, that's $400 I'd pay in a heartbeat, but I use a LOT of RAM, and that puts you at $3,899. Interestingly, as I wrote back in 2018, the previous Intel i9 MacBook Pro model, also with 64GB RAM, cost the same $3,899.
The way you go from $3,899 to $6,099 is by bumping up the onboard flash storage from 1TB to 8TB. That's a $2,200 jump -- and it definitely includes a $350 "Apple tax." If you were buying a comparably equipped Dell XPS 17 laptop, jumping from 1TB flash storage to 8TB flash storage would cost $1,850 -- $350 less than Apple charges for the same jump.
That said, the maxed out 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro at $6,099 is exactly the same price as the maxed out 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro. And there's absolutely no doubt you get a lot more bang for your buck with this new machine.
Just don't get me started on the notch.
So, what do you think about the new MacBook Pros? Are you going to buy one? Do you think the M1 Pro and M1 Max are compelling offerings? Let us know in the comments below. Oh, and just for kicks, if you're the one person who'll shed a tear for the Dear Departed Touch Bar, definitely let us know below. It's okay, Tim. Comments are open to everyone.
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